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Do QR Codes Work in OOH?

A Data-Driven Analysis of Audience Attention

June 3, 2024

QR codes in advertising promise a seamless integration of digital experiences into physical ads, but how effective are they in reality? Our analysis of campaign data sheds light on the true impact of QR codes on audience attention and creative performance, exploring the highs, the lows, and everything in between.

Scanning QR codes became an established behaviour during COVID, but is that still the case when it comes to OOH? Do QR codes change how people look at OOH ads? 

We studied QR Code impact on audience attention by looking at QR-Code campaign attention data generated from our AVA enabled elevator screens in the last 12 months. Spoiler alert (well kind of), it’s a bit of a mixed bag. QR codes can work, they rarely detract, but they don’t always deliver the expected results. 

Let’s break it down:

Highs and Lows: The highest-performing QR code campaigns achieved an impressive 12.1% increase in attention compared to our network average, suggesting that when aligned perfectly with audience interests and campaign goals, QR codes can significantly enhance engagement. On the flip side, the lowest-performing campaign saw a decrease in attention by 3.5%, indicating potential pitfalls in QR code implementation.

Overall Impact: On average incorporating QR codes can be a safe bet without significant risk of reducing engagement. 

Variability in Effectiveness: Our campaign data shows that QR codes can perform very differently depending on the campaign. It’s important to consider how well the QR code fits with the ad’s design, how clear the call-to-action is, and how relevant the content offered through the QR code is to the audience.

So, Are QR Codes Worth It?

Despite their potential, it’s important to really consider the trade-offs of valuable screen real estate. While it’s rare that they detract significantly from overall campaign attention, when it comes to OOH, their inclusion comes at the potential expense of other critical messages.

Given the data:

  • When It Works: QR codes work really well in campaigns where the value is clear — such as exclusive content, discounts, or extended experiences.
  • When It Doesn’t: QR codes underperform when they’re added as an afterthought, when the incentive isn’t compelling, or when the campaign doesn't properly communicate what the audience gains from scanning.

Best Practices for QR Code Implementation

Given the data, we wanted to share our creative recommendations on using QR codes in OOH advertising:

  • Make sure the value (for the user or the business) is justified, otherwise scrap it.
  • Design QR codes to complement rather than compete with the visual narrative of the ad.
  • Make sure they are easily scannable and on-screen for enough time.

The Golden Rule: Test and Learn

Given the variability in performance, it’s crucial to test different QR code implementations and analyze their impact on a smaller scale before a full rollout. If you’re interested in running a test or want a partner who can add a new dimension of data to your marketing strategy, we’d love to chat.

Start planning a smarter campaign today.